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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The truth about hooking up

We live in a casual culture today. Many people wear jeans to work, texting is almost as common as calling, and hooking up has made traditional dating an endangered activity. In fact, many women, especially those in college, now feel that no-strings attached relationships are their one and only option."Hooking up has replaced dating as the primary form of male-female socialising on campuses these days", says Donna Freitas, Ph.D., author of Sex and the Soul. "So people feel if they want physical intimacy and affection, they have no choice but to partak e- even if what they really want is a committed relationship", Which, it turns out, is exactly what most women are hoping for. A poll found that 73 per cent of girls wished dating was more common. With that in mind, i decided to look at what exactly spurred the hookup craze, the pros and cons of nonexclusive relationships, and what you can do to bring dating back from the dead. Why hooking up has taken hold
The term hooking up has been around since the '80s, but a few recent cultural shifts have kicked the practice into high gear. For one, women in their early 20s are focusing more on their jobs than on husband hunting. Now that it's socially acceptable to marry later, the ring-by-spring hysteria that used to consume college seniors no longer exists. And with about 60 women to every 40 men on the average college campus in the US these days, the chances of pairing off aren't great anyway. "Women feel there are so few men to go around that they can't demand much from them," says Kathleen Bogle, Ph.D., author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus.

"Guys, on the other hand, feel like kids in a candy store—with so many women to choose from, they're hesitant to settle on just one. Those who want relationships often don't pursue them because they'll get teased by their friends for it. There's pressure to live up to that phrase ‘Bros before hos.' " Adding to this phenomenon are shows like Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, which Beth Paul, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the College of New Jersey, says glamourise casual sex and present it as the norm.

Is no-strings sex a good idea?According to Veronica, 23, and some girls like her, it can be. "For now, I like hooking up because you don't have that feeling of dependency. You think, I can do what I want, call you if I want, not call you if I want. And it's fun to go out with your friends and wonder who's going to be there," she says.
Still, experts warn that the pitfalls of hooking up outweigh the perks. For one, "A double standard still exists," says Bogle. "Women who sleep around with multiple men, get bad reputations, while guys are applauded for it." But the reason an Institute for American Values report found that 44 per cent of college women feel disappointed after hooking up cuts deeper than being labelled a slut. In her study, Paul found that while many people engage in hookup relationships purely for sexual gratification, others report that they do it in the hopes that a physical relationship will turn into something more serious.And even those who go in with tempered expectations often grow attached. A new study published in the journal Human Nature found that women are more likely to have negative feelings after a one-night stand than men, suggesting that women haven't fully adapted to casual sex.

"Sexual activity releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and it's very strong in women," says psychologist Diana Kirschner, Ph.D., author of the forthcoming book Love in 90 Days. "It's easy for a woman to think she's having fun, and then her body takes over and she then starts developing romantic feelings for a guy." Thus, hookups can end in disappointment as the woman often winds up wanting more.

This is a feeling Nicole, 19, knows all too well. "I started hooking up with this guy just for the hell of it," she says. "But after a while, I started to want a relationship and was crushed when he told me he thought we had an understanding that it wasn't serious." Casual sex, for women, is often as unfulfilling sexually as it is emotionally. "Hookups prioritise male pleasure," says Paula England, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Stanford University. Her study of hookups found that guys orgasm 44 percent of the time, while women peak only 19 percent of the time. And when hookups involve just oral sex, in 45 percent of the cases, the girl is the only one going down.

Even if you embrace the hookup culture in college, it can come back to bite you in the ass in your mid to late-20s, when you finally want to settle down.

Moving beyond hooking up
Your best defence is a good offence, so avoid guys who party excessively and are always draped over a different girl — these are signs he's a player. Kirschner suggests looking for love where there is already a level of respect (for example, an old friend or a guy on your co-ed softball team). And to set the tone of the relationship, try to wait a while before having sex. If you are already in a nonexclusive relationship and want something deeper, speak up."Guys are more comfortable being emotionally intimate without direct eye to eye contact, so broach the subject while you're sitting side by side or doing something non-serious," says Kirschner. Put him at ease, by saying, "Hey, we've been having so much fun together that I have absolutely zero interest in seeing anyone else right now. What about you?"


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